How to get the best value UK holidays - our expert's tips on finding a staycation deal

Foreign travel is off limits for now, which means UK holidays are more popular than ever. Travel writer Jeff Mills shares his tips on finding the best value staycations

Holidays in the UK are popular this summer, but it's still possible to get a good deal (Photos: Shutterstock)
Holidays in the UK are popular this summer, but it's still possible to get a good deal (Photos: Shutterstock)

To say that the government’s decision to delay the removal of Covid restrictions in England from June 21 until July 19 hit the travel business like a tsunami is something of an understatement.

Overseas package holidays have had to be quickly unpackaged and put back on the shelf for another day and airlines have been forced to rethink their operations once again. EasyJet for example, has decided to re-route some flights from the UK to Mediterranean destinations altogether and redeploy their planes to routes from Germany to Spain’s Balearic Islands.

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And many would-be holidaymakers, as well as those in the travel business, have been quick to criticise government action, too. Why, for example, was Portugal put on the so-called ‘green’ list and then promptly removed a couple of weeks later, perhaps removing what little confidence was left among would-be holidaymakers that a summer trip abroad could be on the cards this year?

Can you travel freely in the UK?

The latest advice says we may travel freely between England, Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland, though there is government-issued guidance which recommends that people minimise travel in and out of eight areas where the Delta variant of Covid has been spreading - Kirklees, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.

This guidance has now been extended to cover six more areas of England – Birmingham, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Wirral) and Warrington.

The Scottish government has also introduced temporary travel restrictions for Bedford, Bolton, and Blackburn with Darwen.

And anyone planning to visit a Scottish island is encouraged to take two lateral flow tests beforehand.

So it looks as though staying in the UK for the annual break is the best option, at least for a while, which may not be as bad as it may sound, particularly if the much-improved weather which many parts of the country have been experiencing stays around.

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Surging demand for UK holidays

The problem, however, is that you won’t be alone in trying to book a week or two away somewhere interesting in the UK. Demand for some holidays this summer is likely to be off the scale.

This is why some companies, such as tour operator giant Tui, have expanded their UK holiday programme after cancelling overseas package holiday sales until July 11.

Like many others, the company has also come up with hundreds of extra UK excursions, various activities and tickets to visitor attractions, which you can buy online, so even if you can only get away for the odd day trip there is something to look forward to.

But though you had better be prepared for stiff competition for some holidays with high prices, that doesn’t mean you have to pay over the odds. There are some things you can do to make sure you get the best value, while safeguarding your money.

Here are a few top tips:

- Check comparison booking websites such as Booking.com and Trivago for the best rates but then contact the places you’re keen on to see if their rates are cheaper direct.

- Pay with a credit card, especially if you book in advance. That way you stand a good chance of getting a refund.

- Instead of booking in a popular city or seaside resort, choose accommodation a bit further away, which may mean much better prices.

- Unless you are governed by school holidays, travel off-peak times. Breaks are a lot cheaper during the week and in school term times.

- If you’re driving, always check the accommodation has free parking, public car parks can cost a fortune.

Here’s to fun in the UK sun.

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